Ulupi induced an unwilling Arjun to take her for wife
Spouse(s) Arjuna
Children Iravan

Ulūpī or Uloopi (also known as Uluchi or Uloochi), is a character in the Hindu epic Mahabharata. The daughter of Kouravya, the king of serpents, she was the second among the four wives of Arjuna. She also finds a mention in the Vishnu Purana and the Bhagavata Purana.

Ulupi is said to have met and married Arjuna when he was in exile; she had a son with him, Iravan. She played a major part in the upbringing of Babruvahana, Arjuna's son with Chitrāngadā. She is also credited with redeeming Arjuna from the curse of the Vasus by restoring his life after he was slain in a battle by Babruvahana.

Etymology and form

Little is said about Ulupi in the Mahabharata. Ulupi is known by numerous names in the Mahabharata—Bhujagatmaja, Bhujagendrakanyaka, Bhujagottama, Kauravi, Kauravyaduhita, Kauravyakulanandini, Pannaganandini, Pannagasuta, Pannagatmaja, Pannagesvarakanya, Pannagi, and Uragatmaja.[1] Ulupi is described as a mythical form of a Nagakanya (Naga princess), half-maiden and half-serpent.[2] Michael Mott in his Caverns, Cauldrons, and Concealed Creatures described Ulupi as "partly reptilian" – the portion below the waist resembles that of a snake or a crocodile.[3][4]

Birth and early life

Ulupi was the daughter of Kouravya, a descendant of Naga the human head with snaketail.[5][6] Her father ruled the underwater kingdom of serpents in the Ganga river.[7] Ulupi was a well-trained warrior.[8]

Marriage with Arjuna

Arjuna, the third Pandava brother, is exiled from Indraprastha—the capital city of the kingdom—to go on a one-year pilgrimage as a penance for violating the terms of his marriage to Draupadi, the brothers' common wife. Accompanied by Brahmins, Arjuna goes to north-eastern region of present-day India.[9] One day when he bathes in the Ganga river to perform his rituals, the current pulls him inside the river.[10] He later realises that it was Ulupi, the Naga princess, who "grasped" and pulled him into the river. She held him with her hands and traveled at her will. They finally ended up in an underwater kingdom, the abode of Kourvaya. Arjuna saw a sacrificial fire in the place and offered his rites in the fire. Agni was pleased with Arjuna's "unhesitating offering of oblations".[7]

Delighted by her act, Arjuna inquires Ulupi about her background. She reveals her lineage and admits that she had fallen in love with him. Arjuna, however, declines her proposal citing his celibacy on his pilgrimage. Ulupi argues that his celibacy is limited only to Draupadi, Arjuna's first wife.[11] Convinced by her argument, he marries her and spends a night with her. A son named Iravan was born to them.[7] Pleased by Arjuna, Ulupi grants him a boon that all animals that live under water will obey him and he will be invincible under the water.[10][12]

Redeeming Arjuna from the curse

The Vasus, Bhishma's brothers, cursed Arjuna after he killed Bhishma through treachery in the Kurukshetra War.[13][14] When Ulupi heard of the curse, she sought the help of her father, Kouravya. Her father went to Ganga, Bhishma's mother, and requested her for a relief from the curse. Upon hearing him, Ganga said that Arjuna would be killed by his own son, Babruvahana—Arjuna's son through Chitrāngadā—and brought back to life when Ulupi places a gem on his chest.[14]

Following her father's advice, Ulupi instigates Babruvahana to fight Arjuna.[14] When Arjuna goes to Manipur with the horse intended for the Aswamedha sacrifice,[13] the king Babruvahana, as directed by Ulupi, challenges Arjuna for a duel. In the fierce battle that took place between them, both are mangled by the other's arrows. Finally, Arjuna is mortally wounded and is killed by his son when he shoots a powerful arrow at him.[15] Chitrāngadā rushes to the spot and abuses Ulupi for instigating Babruvahana to fight Arjuna.[14] Repenting of his deed, Babruvahana is determined to kill himself, but is promptly stopped by Ulupi. She goes to her kingdom and brings the gem. When she places the gem on Arjuna's chest, his life is restored, thus relieving him of the Vasus' curse.[16] When brought back to his life, Arjuna becomes happy to see Ulupi, Chitrāngadā, and Babruvahana. He takes all of them to Hastinapur.[14]

Retirement of the Pandavas

Upon the onset of the Kali Yuga, the Pandavas along with Draupadi retired and left the throne to their only heir Arjuna's grandson, Parikshit. Giving up all their belongings and ties, they made their final journey of pilgrimage to the Himalayas, accompanied by a dog. Ulupi went back to her kingdom in the Ganga river.[17]


  1. Vettam 1975, p. 806.
  2. Wheeler, James Talboys (1867). The History of India from the Earliest Ages: The Vedic period and the Mahá Bhárata. N. Trübner. p. 572.
  3. Steiger, Brad (2010). Real Monsters, Gruesome Critters, and Beasts from the Darkside. Visible Ink Press. p. 150. ISBN 978-1-57859-345-3.
  4. Mott, Wm Michael (2011). Caverns, Cauldrons, and Concealed Creatures: A Study of Subterranean Mysteries in History, Folklore, and Myth. Grave Distractions Pub. p. 98. ISBN 978-0-9829128-7-4.
  5. Vogel 1926, p. 208.
  6. Vettam 1975, p. 19.
  7. 1 2 3 Debroy 2010, sec.Arjuna-vanavasa Parva.
  8. Chandramouli 2012, chpt. Seprent Princess.
  9. Vettam 1975, p. 96.
  10. 1 2 Vettam 1975, p. 332.
  11. Vettam 1975, p. 54.
  12. Thadani 1931, pp. 185–186.
  13. 1 2 Ganguli, Kisari Mohan (1883–1896). "SECTION LXXXI". The Mahabharata: Book 14: Anugita Parva. Internet Sacred Text Archive. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  14. 1 2 3 4 5 Vettam 1975, p. 97.
  15. Ganguli, Kisari Mohan (1883–1896). "SECTION LXXIX". The Mahabharata: Book 14: Anugita Parva. Internet Sacred Text Archive. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  16. Ganguli, Kisari Mohan (1883–1896). "SECTION LXXX". The Mahabharata: Book 14: Anugita Parva. Internet Sacred Text Archive. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  17. Ganguli, Kisari Mohan (1883–1896). "SECTION 1". The Mahabharata: Book 17: Mahaprasthanika Parva. Internet Sacred Text Archive. Retrieved 3 April 2016.


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